Pismo Beach is one of my favorite Central California locations. Set on the ocean, with perfect weather, miles of sandy beaches, an historic pier, unique shops and dining, nearby wineries and tons of classic vibe, the city has everything I look for in a weekend getaway.
So when I heard that the town recently welcomed a new, beachfront boutique hotel and nature preserve, I knew I had to investigate. The hotel is the Inn at the Pier and it is located directly in front of the 94 year-old Pismo Pier, mere steps from the beach. The wilderness park is the Pismo Preserve and it covers 900 acres overlooking the ocean and California’s Central Coast.
My getaway to the Inn at the Pier began when a friend and I checked into an incredible suite, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Pismo pier. Covering more than 800 luxurious square-feet, the room was highlighted by mesmerizing ocean and pier views from two separate balconies: one off the living room and one off of the separate bedroom.
Other suite amenities included a spacious living area with an L-shaped couch; 55-inch LCD TV; office work desk with chair and high-speed Wi-Fi; and a kitchen with sink, refrigerator, microwave, espresso machine and dining bar with chairs. There was also a huge bathroom with double vanities, walk-in shower and separate toilet area; not to mention the two aforementioned balconies overlooking the gorgeous Pismo coastline.
After unpacking, we walked about 100 yards from the hotel to the sand, where we laid out a blanket and relaxed, watching surfers ride waves and seagulls perch on the historic pier. Currently undergoing a nearly $9-million renovation, the pier was originally constructed in 1924. Since then it has suffered damage during several storms and a partial collapse in 1983.
The pier is currently getting a structural upgrade, with a new electrical system, water lines, lighting, benches, tables, public art and other public amenities. When complete in fall of 2019, the Pismo Pier will have the look and feel of “Classic California” with a traditional wooden decking and outdoor recreational space.
After lounging on the beach and shopping in downtown, we headed back to the Inn at the Pier for dinner at The Rooftop Bar, the hotel’s signature restaurant/lookout spot. To get here we walked down the hallway from our 3rd floor suite, past the fitness room to the roof deck. Featuring a small pool, Jacuzzi, deck chairs, couches, fire pits and a bar/dining area, The Rooftop offers memorable coastal views and seasonally-inspired small plates, signature cocktails and local craft brews.
Our dinner at Rooftop began with an heirloom beet salad with watercress, grapefruit, pistachio, goat cheese, radishes and lemon-sage vinaigrette. We then had a bowl of tasty Pismo Beach clam chowder, with local clams, smoked bacon, potatoes and croutons. For the main course I devoured king salmon with carrot, radish, fennel heirloom potatoes, and lemon fennel cream. My friend experienced Wagyu flat iron steak with kalbi marinade, ginger-soba noodle cake, charred broccolini and kimchi, miso butter. While dining we watched the sun fall into the ocean behind San Luis Obispo.
The next morning I worked out at the hotel’s modern fitness room, then had breakfast at Blonde, the hotel’s contemporary restaurant, located next to the lobby. From here, I walked a mile to Pismo Preserve, where I toured the 900-acre natural wonderland, overlooking the ocean.
Offering diverse docent-led recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, the preserve boasts more than 10 miles of rugged and beautiful trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. The trails traverse serene oak woodlands and coastal ridge lines with stunning panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean stretching from the Irish Hills to Point Sal.
Managed by The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo (LCSLO), the preserve was acquired “with the goal of making it a public open space for passive recreation in the form of hiking, biking and equestrian,” says Dylan Theobald, stewardship manager for LCSLO.
For my visit to the preserve I joined Dylan and his dog Lucy for an exciting off-road Jeep tour. Beginning at one end of the property, we drove up and down the more than 10 miles of existing ranch roads and trails that meander throughout. The trails traverse serene oak woodlands and coastal ridgelines with stunning panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean stretching from the Irish Hills to Point Sal.
In addition to myriad recreational opportunities, the picturesque Pismo Preserve boasts a diverse array of plant communities. The western edge of the ranch is composed of rolling annual grasslands and coastal scrub. These communities give way to maritime chaparral along the southern slopes, while dense coast live oak woodlands cover the steep canyons and north facing hillsides. Majestic sycamore and willow riparian corridors wind through lowlands and a wide floodplain along Thousand Hills Road and Price Canyon. And with spring here, the trails are lined with California Poppies, lupine and other wildflowers.
Streams that flow through the preserve, including Pismo Creek, provide natural habitats that are vital for the protection of sensitive species. Threatened animals identified on the preserve include Steelhead, the red-legged frog, and the southwestern pond turtle. During our tour we saw red hawks squirrels and a wild turkey.
Though Pismo Preserve is currently opened to the public it is not officially opened, so right now visitors must arrange pre-scheduled docent-led tours, hikes, and equestrian and mountain bike rides. Theobald says the preserve will officially open later this year. The preserve is currently undergoing construction to make it ready for public use. When complete, the park will feature parking, restrooms, and an ADA-accessible trail. Visitors will be able register, sign in at the entrance, explore the Preserve without a docent, and sign out when leaving.
The Inn at the Pier is located at 601 Cypress Street, Pismo Beach, CA 93449. For more information on staying at the hotel, call 805-295-5565 or visit: www.theinnatthepier.com. For more information on visiting Pismo Preserve, call (805) 544-9096 or visit: www.lcslo.org.